The safety technology present in most vehicles these days needs to make certain assumptions about the passengers in the car, in the case of an accident. In order for the vehicle to recognise that a passenger is sitting in a particular seat, one of the requirements is often that their seatbelt is fastened. If the vehicle is then subjected to the required amount of force, or decelerates at the required rate – features such as the airbags will deploy, in order to prevent injury.
So the safety benefits of wearing a seatbelt can go further than just the direct effects that it has on you. In order to benefit from the other safety features, you more than likely need to be wearing your seatbelt.
Another important thing to remember is, that when vehicle manufacturers test their cars under various accident scenarios – they assume that all the passengers will be wearing their seatbelts. They then optimise the car’s safety based upon these results. So if you’re not wearing your seatbelt – safety features present, such as the crumple zones or airbags may actually end up doing more harm to you.
Arrive Alive urge people to remember the following about air-bags, “They are not a guaranteed life-saver. While they work with almost 100% success in relatively lower speed collisions, there are no guarantees by the time you are exceeding the 80 Km/h mark. Air-bags are designed to reduce the risk of serious injury or death but do not come with a results guarantee. People need to understand that fatalities can come from a wide array of possible causes, including penetration (puncture) wounds, pre-existing heart conditions, shock, internal bleeding and even unattended bleeding from relatively smaller wounds.”
It is also important to note that airbags may still deploy in certain vehicles, whether or not the seatbelt is fastened. Some cars rely on other sensors to detect if a passenger is present, however the airbags will still be designed to work in conjunction with the seatbelt.
Arrive Alive warn that, “In these cases the collision could result in the occupant projecting forward (in a frontal collision) at up to 100 km/h, while the front layer of the airbag (during deployment) can travel at several hundred kilometres per hour in the opposite direction. If a relatively soft body encounters an air-bag and decelerates relatively aggressively, serious injury or even death might occur.” In the case of young children, this is particularly dangerous.
Parents are also given a very serious warning about, “Children standing on seats or up against the dashboard at the front seat, while the vehicle is driven. If a child falls forwards during the braking cycle and the airbag deploys when the child is already striking the dashboard or standing up against it, the ‘explosion‘ is essentially happening with direct contact to the child.”
Source: Arrive Alive